To understand SEO analysis, let’s have a visit to the near history. Remember phone books? Yellow pages, specifically, were printed business directories divided into categories, and for any service needs, people would consult these guides.
Today, search engines do exactly what the editors of yellow pages do, but in a much more complex and dynamic way. There are certain standards and logic to the way their “directories” (the search engine result pages, or shortly SERPs) work – and no, it is not alphabetical or by industry.
Paying attention to SEO is similar to applying to yellow pages to be listed, and trying to fulfill their standards. It’s a little more technical, but we will go over the basics of SEO analysis and how to do a website SEO analysis in this article, and hopefully make it clearer for you.
What is SEO analysis?
SEO analysis is a website check for the overall health, structure, content, and other factors relevant to your search engine rankings. In other words, think of it as consulting an expert on how to attract more attention and get better discovered on the “yellow pages” of the internet, the search engine result pages (SERPs). The results reveal areas that can be improved to increase your ranking on SERPs, and how you can build the best SEO strategy for your business.
Why is SEO analysis important?
SEO analysis is the first order of business for a bulletproof SEO strategy. It shows your weaknesses and strengths, and what to work on to achieve better SERP rankings.
In addition to an on-page SEO audit and website SEO audit, you may also conduct an SEO competitor analysis to understand the trends, where your SEO competitors are at, and come up with a strategy to shine through.
If you are aiming for the top ranking in your area of business, increasing your website traffic, achieving your business objectives and growth goals, you definitely need an SEO analysis. Preparing an extensive SEO report will give you actionable insights and help you map out a solid SEO strategy.
How to do an SEO analysis of a website
An SEO analysis consists of a number of technical details which can be grouped into three:
- On-page SEO: Includes the content (the quality and keyword usage) and structural issues, the HTML source code, images, and meta-tags.
- Off-page SEO: This relates to the elements outside your website that still relate to you, which can be controlled by link building, getting listed and featured on credible websites, and guest blogging.
- Technical SEO: The technical aspects of SEO are about the structure and functioning of the website, and optimizing them for crawlers. It also includes mobile optimization.
First, you would want to make a list of the elements that you will check and prioritize. Then, plan out who you will assign which parts of the analysis, and which ones you want to outsource to agencies.
Some steps can be handled with SEO tools and SEO checkers available to all. For example, there are many keyword explorers and research tools you can use to find keywords, with suitable alternatives for every budget (even some free options). You can opt for an automated scan for basic on-page structure issues and technical errors.
However, you may want to outsource the more complex technical details to professional agencies for a high-quality, thorough technical SEO audit.
What to check in a website’s SEO analysis
Now that we covered the basics and why you should definitely conduct an SEO audit, in this section we provide you with the technical details to give you a better idea. What are the key elements to look for in a comprehensive SEO analysis? What does a comprehensive SEO analysis consist of? Let’s go into the details.
The URL of your website is the “digital address” of your business, and a significant element for SEO practices. The URLs to different pages on your website help organize your content and provide access to the various types of content you offer. They function like signs placed in a store that refer to different aisles, categories of products you offer, helping the visitors navigate easily.
What should you look for in structuring URLs? Here are some of the best SEO practices for URL structure:
- If possible, make sure the URLs are readable and relate to the content, rather than a random set of characters, letters, numbers. Some version of the title is usually a good choice.
- Include your target keywords in the URL to increase your rankings.
- Shorter the URL, the better. If your URLs are over 100 characters, consider shortening them.
- Use hyphens (-) or underscores (_) to separate the words in the URL.
- Opt for an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) application, and choose HTTPS rather than HTTP. This encrypts your connection and provides extra safety against hackers. Having SSL increases your search engine rankings and preferability by users.
Content is perhaps the most essential element you will work on for your SEO analysis, confirmed by Google as one of the top 3 ranking factors. It’s how you convey your message, and how the search engine crawlers get to know you. Content issues consist of your copywriting, the keywords, the originality and value offered, and the relevance.
Search engines are getting smarter on how to recognize spammy and low-quality content and penalize such pages in their rankings. With attention to detail, you can improve your content and as a result, your SERP rankings. Here are some points to consider:
- Do your keyword research before creating content. Come up with the top keywords with the highest search volume and density. There are plenty of tools you can use for keyword research, you can also get professional help.
- Conduct a content gap analysis regularly. Check with your competitors and see which keywords and topics they are ranking for. If you are lacking in any of the areas, close the gap and keep up with them.
- Optimize your images. Large images with high resolution can slow down your page load time. But you don’t want low-resolution images either.
- Add alt texts to all of your images with 10-15 words related to the image. Also, use relevant and descriptive words when you’re naming your image files, and use hyphens to separate the words.
- Come up with catchy page titles and title tags that include the top keyword you want to rank for. The recommended length for title tags is between 50-60 characters long. Your headings should be different from the title tags, which will also help you include different keywords.
- Avoid duplicate content. Search engine bots can detect duplicate content both within your website, and between two different websites, and flags it. If detected, your website may rank lower or even be removed from the index.
Meta descriptions or meta-tags are kind of like briefs that you provide search engines to describe what you have on your website. It helps the bots index your pages according to the relevant keywords and has a great influence on SEO.
Make sure you have a meta description for each page, and you don’t have any duplicates. The descriptions should be between 135 to 160 characters and include the target keywords.
Blocked resources are files that are blocked from, and hence inaccessible by GoogleBot. These cannot be crawled and indexed in the search engines. Especially when you add an SSL protocol to your website, search engines recrawl the website to index it again. Having blocked resources hinders this process and affects your rankings. Here’s how to fix that:
- Find blocked resources using Google Search Console.
- Find the line that is blocking the resource in the robots.txt file.
- Update the line and allow GoogleBot to access the files.
Links are passages between relevant pages and websites and are an essential part of your website’s structure, as well as your website’s relationship with other websites. There are two levels to work on SEO analysis: on-page (internal) links, off-page (inbound, incoming) links also known as backlinks. Here are some points you should pay attention to:
- When you have two articles that relate to each other, or terms and concepts related to other content in your website, make sure to add links, and emphasize those connections. This is called contextual linking.
- You can add a “related posts”, and a “popular posts” section to improve your internal link building.
- Don’t leave any pages and content “orphaned”, make sure that all of your pages have backlinks or internal links so that they appear on SERPs.
- Do regular checks on the health of your links, fix broken links and prevent errors.
- Make sure your anchor texts are appropriate. Anchor texts are clickable texts with hyperlinks. They shouldn’t be spammy and lengthy, but related to the content in the link and able to capture the reader’s attention. Also, avoid using the same hyperlink more than once on a page.
- Check your backlink profile and see if you have any bad inbound links as part of SEO Analysis. Contact the admins of the sites to get yourself removed, if necessary. You can go over the list of your backlinks, and check the spam scores of the sites.
- Another way to regulate your backlinks is differentiating between dofollow and nofollow links. If you don’t want the search engines to consider an inbound link on a certain website, but you don’t want the mention to be removed, you can ask the admin to add a small piece of code to make it a “nofollow link”, which will prevent bots from following that link on that website. By default, all links are dofollow links.
Website structure (architecture)
The architecture of your website is the foundation of your users’ experiences. It also affects how crawlers will navigate through the website, and figure out what you are offering in your website, and where you have each element. To optimize your website structure, there are a few things you can do:
- List all of your main pages at the very top of your website, in a navigation bar where the visitors and crawlers can easily find them.
- Create an XML sitemap (the directory, roadmap of your website) to help crawlers understand the website’s structure.
- Ensure that the content you mention in your sitemap is actually present.
- Build your internal links well so that visitors can navigate from one page to another with ease.
Overall friendliness & load time
Search engines look at how smooth the user experience is when they are deciding on rankings. Faster loading pages and pages that are friendly for the users are rewarded in SERP rankings. You can do a couple of things to optimize your load time and friendliness:
- Optimize the images, make sure you don’t use too many images, and too large images.
- Use a CDN (Content Delivery Network). This will save a cache of your pages on servers around the globe and speeds up response time for more visitors in different places.
- Review the back end of your website for issues, check your code for bugs and fix them.
Currently, the majority of internet users log in from mobile devices. Without proper mobile optimization, you will be missing out on significant potential traffic and make it harder to convert your visitors. Search engines reward mobile-friendly websites and rank them higher on the result pages. Here are tips for mobile optimization:
- View your website in mobile mode to see how well it works.
- Ensure typography and design are easy to display and read on mobile devices. Opt for simplicity and speed over complex, difficult-to-load designs.
- Add responsive meta tags in HTML document
- Apply media queries to layout
- Make images and embedded videos responsive
We have talked about what SEO analysis is, how to conduct an SEO analysis, and why it’s important for your business, and discussed the key elements of an SEO audit. We hope that the article helps you plan a thorough SEO analysis and improve your website and pages’ ranking.